The True Cost of Maternity Claims

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Clinical Negligence Article

06 February, 2024

Leonie_Millard
Leonie Millard
Partner

Maternity claims involve a wide variety of conditions that can develop during pregnancy and labour and can result in significant injury to the mother and child if not managed properly.

The majority of cerebral palsy cases are not related to negligence, and the single largest factor for cerebral palsy is prematurity. Other risk factors however include;

  • Hyperstimulation;
  • Preeclampsia;
  • Fetal growth restriction;
  • Infection;
  • Placental abruption;
  • Asphyxia;
  • Congenital abnormality;
  • Sepsis;
  • Neonatal stroke

Although cerebral palsy cases are not the highest volume of claims, they represent the most expensive both in terms of financial cost to the NHS, and also the human impact in terms of a lifelong devastating injury.

NHS Resolution investigated incidents of harm in 'Five years of cerebral palsy claims, thematic review of the NHS Resolution data', September 2017. The purpose of the report was to find a root cause. It criticised individual mistakes without looking adequately at why those mistakes were made. Systemic failings, such as training and lack of resource and understaffing should not be overlooked. If staff lack knowledge and skill, what is the reason behind that?

It is clear from the plethora of maternity scandals that the same problems continue to present as they did in Shrewsbury and Telford, Gloucester and Morecambe. Hundreds of mothers and babies have died or been harmed unnecessarily.

To preserve the relationship of trust there needs to be a move towards transparency, accountability and learning and open communication.

The Health Secretary Victoria Atkins has acknowledged more must be done to stop maternal deaths, with at least 293 women dying from childbirth over the last 3 years.

Year 2 of the '10 year Women's Health Strategy', pledges to spend £50 million to tackle the disparity between the number of black women that die in childbirth as compared to white women. That figure is nearly 3 times greater.

There is also a plan to increase support for women with birth trauma, making available specialist mental health service throughout England by March.

All women will now be offered a checkup with their GP within 8 weeks of giving birth to consider their mental and physical health.

Although it is a step in the right direction, it is clear that the hospital system needs reform and resource. This would benefit patients and ultimately save significant cost to the NHS.

In my experience of maternity claims for cerebral palsy, stillbirth and neonatal death, the women that I represent come to me to access the truth and support to secure their future and that of their family. With every case that we take we continue to strive for improvement in the system.

For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here

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